SALEM, Ore. (Jun. 13, 2016) – Two years after voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has approved the first marijuana licenses under the state’s recreational marijuana system. This represents one more step toward blocking marijuana prohibition in practice in the state.
In 2014 the state voters approved Measure 91, legalizing recreational pot for people ages 21 and older. They can possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana and up to four plants. The state first legalized medical marijuana in 1998 through Measure 67.
So far the OLCC has received 910 applications and expects to receive between 1200 and 2000 applications during the 2016 calendar year. They plan to issue about 850 licenses in 2016.
The overwhelming number of applications shows what happens when states open the door to marijuana businesses. Despite federal prohibition, Oregonians are eager to cash in on the business potential. Legalization have opened up a brand new market, and people are rushing to fill the void.
Recreational marijuana is an important step toward thwarting deplorable federal drug laws. The federal government lacks any lawful authority to prohibit or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Many people find it abhorrent that the federal government might lock someone up simply for smoking a plant. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana arrests make up half of all drug arrests in the United States.
Sure, the feds can still try to enforce their ban in Oregon. However, it’s too costly for the DEA to consistently enforce. Statistics from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) suggest that costs-per-raid and costs-per-investigation far exceed the yearly DEA budget. Figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles alone – a single city in a single state. And that doesn’t include the cost of prosecution.
Furthermore, arresting and charging people simply for smoking weed isn’t the best way to win public support for the War on Drugs.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” policy analyst Michael Boldin said.
The feds need state cooperation to enforce prohibition. That has rapidly evaporated through the actions of states like Oregon, stopping in practice the ban.
The first recreational marijuana licenses in the Beaver State demonstrates that the people are tired of having a handful of unelected officials decide what they can and cannot put into our own bodies.